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Panasonic TC-LE60 series review:

Best Panasonic LCD in years a great value

Non-preinstalled apps can be accessed from the Viera Connect market, where the most useful names include Vudu, Pandora, TuneIn, Rhapsody, a free classical music portal, and full episodes and a Home Shopping Network app. You'll have to create a Viera Connect account to install them, unfortunately. The rest of the apps are much less useful. They include a smattering of kids' apps, and the requisite crappy games.

And yes, there's a Web browser, but as usual it's terrible compared with a phone or especially with a laptop browser. Navigation was sluggish and quite frustrating with the remote's cursor keys, especially with the lack of autofill. Scrolling was unresponsive and unlike with Samsung or LG, the browser failed this flash test. You should use it only when no other recourse is available. If you find yourself wanting to use the browser much, it's probably worth having your head examined attaching a USB keyboard with an integrated touch pad or trackball.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture settings: Panasonic is slowly approaching the levels of adjustability found on other high-end TVs. New for 2013, it has migrated some of the advanced picture controls down to models like the E60. These include a 10-point grayscale and 10-point gamma system as well as color management for the primary colors. The company has also added another picture mode, "Home Theater," atop its standard four, and a cool "copy adjustments" option that allows you to migrate your picture settings from one input or mode to others.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Other controls include three levels of dejudder, aka soap opera effect, an and unecessarily complex Eco adjustment suite that I nonetheless kinda love.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: Three HDMI ports, an analog video input that can handle either composite or component connections, and a pair of USB ports are standard for this level of TV. The SD card slot is a nice -- and uncommon -- addition, however. In case you're counting, none of the HDMI ports is MHL-compatible, although one can handle ARC.

Picture quality
The E60 is among the best-performing LED LCDs we've tested this year for the price. It delivers deep black levels for an LED LCD without the issues associated with imprecise local dimming. Color and video processing are also solid, if not spectacular, while bright room performance and uniformity were very good. Its worst performance aspect is actually its sound quality.

It's also worth noting that even though I didn't include it in the comparison below, nor have I subjected it to a full review yet, I've tested our in-house TC-L55WT60 -- Panasonic's most expensive LED LCD for 2013 -- enough to report that it doesn't have better picture quality than the E60. We plan to publish the full WT60 review soon.

Click the image above to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
Vizio E500i-A1 50-inch LED
LG 47LA6200 50-inch LED
Vizio M551d-A2R 55-inch LED
Samsung UN55F6400 55-inch LED
Sharp LC-60LE650 60-inch LED
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-inch plasma

Black level: The E60's biggest strength is the ability to show a relatively deep shade of black. The nighttime scenes from "Skyfall," such as the Shanghai cityscape or Bond's arrival at the bar in Macau, looked more realistic and powerful thanks to the E60's black level. In our lineup the only sets that eclipsed in this area, aside from the S60 plasma, were the two Vizios -- and both of those have local dimming circuits that introduce certain amount of blooming and crushing (see their reviews for details).

The skyline at 41:32 is a mix of dark sky and shadows among otherwise brightly illuminated towers, and the E60 handled it very well, showing darker letterbox bars than any other sets aside from the S60 and the Vizio E series. The highlights also looked brighter than on the M series with its aggressive dimming. Details in the shadows, like the faces of Bond and his silhouetted target in the high-rise stalking scene (Chapter 12), were well-detailed without being too bright.

Color accuracy: The E60's accurate measurements translated onto the screen very well. Skin tones, like the face of Bond and his antagonist as they meet in Chapter 17, looked natural and realistic, without the slightly ruddy tinge of the Vizio E or the greenish/yellowish cast of the Sharp and especially the Panasonic S60.

On the other hand, subjectively speaking the E60's saturation appeared somewhat less rich than most of the others, particularly the S60, the Samsung and the Vizio M, in brightly colored areas like the fruit stands in the opening chapter. It's not a huge issue, however, and would be tough to notice outside a side-by-side comparison

Another weakness was the E60's tendency to go bluish in dark areas, a problem shared by many LED LCDs but worse than usual in the E60's case. It even extended into somewhat brighter areas, like the background of the wall behind the villain at 1:16:02.

Video processing: The E60 delivered the performance I expect from a 120Hz television. Compared with many other so-called 120Hz TVs that more or less cheat at the refresh rate game, like the Vizio E series and the LG LA6200, that's a refreshing change.

Panasonic's Motion Picture setting controls the smoothing Soap Opera Effect. Leaving it off is the only way to preserve the correct cadence of 1080p/24 film sources, so we expect most video and film buffs will do just that.

The other three settings, Weak, Mid, and Strong, introduce progressively more smoothing. Weak is more aggressive than I've seen in some Panasonics, so the smoothing it introduces is still quite noticeable. The other two also showed haloing and breakup artifacts, although these issues aren't as visible as on the LG, for example.

There's little reason to use Weak anyway because unlike the other two, it fails to improve the E60's motion resolution numbers. Mid and Strong scored the 600-off lines expected of a 120Hz TV, while Off and Weak cut those roughly in half--although between the two, Weak fared a bit better. As usual I found it tough to discern blurring in actual program material, even when I left the setting off. Unlike Samsung, Panasonic offers no setting that preserves motion resolution without introducing smoothing.

Uniformity: The E60 performed extremely well in this area for a edge-lit LED LCD. Yes, on test patterns the edges and corners appeared just oh-so-slightly brighter than the middle, but on program material the backlight irregularities were next-to-impossible to discern.

From off-angle the E60 was about average among its LCD peers, washing out dark areas worse than the Sharp or the E series and about as much as the Samsung, but outdoing the M series and the LG. In brighter scenes the latter two maintained color fidelity better, however; the E60 tended to more quickly become bluish/reddish from off-angle.

Bright lighting: The E60 excels under the lights. Its matte screen attenuates reflections better than any of the other sets aside from the Sharp (the best by a nose) and the Vizio E series, both of which also have a matte finish. Bright objects reflected therein, like my checked shirt under overhead lights, looked duller and less distracting.

The E60 also delivered on a second bright-room characteristic, the ability to preserve black levels from washing out. As a result the image maintained good "pop" and contrast, outdoing laggards like the LG and the S60 in this area while keeping pace with the others aside from the group-leading Samsung.

Sound quality: If you value sound quality in a TV, skip the E60. Its audio was the worst in our lineup, losing to the also-awful LA6200 by a wheezing nose. Listening to "Red Right Hand," Nick Cave's voice faded into obscurity while the instruments -- full-sounding on the 6400 and the S60 by comparison -- reminded me of a cell phone fallen down a well: thin, distant, and muddled together. The explosions, shattering glass, and panicky horns from the bridge scene in "Mission: Impossible 3" were similarly denuded of impact on the E60, rendered lifeless and much less exciting than on the better TVs.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0067 Good
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.26 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 1.332 Good
Dark gray error (20%) 0.728 Good
Bright gray error (70%) 0.798 Good
Avg. color error 1.625 Good
Red error 1.048 Good
Green error 0.897 Good
Blue error 2.411 Good
Cyan error 1.363 Good
Magenta error 1.43 Good
Yellow error 2.598 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 600 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 300 Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 48.3 Average

Panasonic TC-L50E60 CNET review calibration results

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